A PIECE OF ADVICE FROM EMERALD MICHAEL

€1. My favourite memory from my early years as a girl child is being reminded of my..well, girl-child-ness. 
Why did I have to master kitchen work even though I hated it? - Because you're female, a future mother.
Why did I have a curfew and my brothers didn't? - Because you're a girl.
Why did I have to act a certain way? - Because you're a woman.
I resented it, this gender that came with too many restrictions. Tried my feeble best to rebel but it still put me in my place. 
Kept me locked down with the fear that my future marital home was already ruined because my intelligence would clearly not be enough wife material. I wasn't 14 yet, but my idea of marriage was already warped.
2. We once had a neighbour whose wife was a real troublesome creature (God rest her soul).
They'd quarrel into the night keeping the whole block awake. Usually, it ended with the man walking out and slamming the door while she rained abuses at his back.
One evening, things took a different turn. The yells turned into screams and thuds on the wall. Neighbours ran out to intervene. Some begged him to stop. Most murmured that she had it coming.
I'd never seen my parents fight. Not even via raised voices. I'd only seen couples fighting on TV. So this was a little alien to me.
But as I listened to the adults argue, I found myself agreeing with something. This man was a quiet one. He'd borne enough. Maybe she did have it coming.
3. One time, here on facebook, I had a heated argument with a friend over the issue of 'indecent' dressing being a trigger for rape.
Get this. He, the male, argued that nothing could justify the act while I, the female, tried to make him see why you couldn't heap all the blame on the rapist. I wasn't justifying the act. Or so I claimed. Yeah. That me.
     See, I was strictly raised in a holiness church that believed indecent dressing was the root of all evil. Not money, this time.
Few years before this debate, when I suffered harassment at the hands of my teacher, when I could find no logical reason, I wondered if my usually 'decent' uniform had somehow exposed my body and seduced the devil out of him. I wasn't even 14 yet. There's more.
     The point of these narratives is, never underestimate how much harm childhood indoctrination can cause.
     Thanks to science, western education and rebranded common sense, some of us have found enlightenment. But that atheist was once an altar boy who spent nights with his reverend "offering incense" and that feminist once clung to an abusive man's strings because she saw her mother do the same.
     Most of us had to unlearn and relearn what we stand for today. Some doctrines, we may never be able to give up. But, for these kids at the most crucial stage of their lives, where their assimilatory senses are at the peak..
Careful! The behavioural patterns you exhibit for them to copy.
Careful! The ideologies you force on them.
     Teach a child domestic and survival skills because they'll grow up to be adults who should be able to fend for themselves. Not because he's a man who'll have to provide for his family or she's a woman who'll have to feed her man.
     Teach them good values because a responsible child grows up to build a responsible society. Not because the ladies love gentlemen or because society favours ladies.
     For God's sake, they're too young to be already saddled with society's supposed expectations. Give them a chance to think for themselves. Express their doubts. Discover themselves. Learn to distinguish right from wrong. Because one day, when they're fighting to free themselves from the clutches of dogma you forced on them, they'll hate you.

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